The Role of a Picture Editor

The role of a Picture Editor can be largely varied and incorporates a number of different day to day tasks. It requires both technical skill and creative ability. A Picture Editor will typically be responsible for any or all of the following tasks:

Commissioning Photography: A Picture Editor will be able to set up photoshoots ranging from big budget studio shoots that include props, hair and make up, stylists, photographers, lighting etc through to very quick shoots requiring maybe only a photographer. Because of this, a contacts book full of geographically and stylistically diverse photographers, make-up artists, stylists, prop houses etc is invaluable.

Writing/Devising Creative Briefs: An important skill for a Picture Editor and probably at the core of the role is being able to come up with fresh creative ideas for photography. Once an idea is arrived at, the Picture Editor needs to be able to communicate it effectively so that everyone involved understands it. This is usually achieved by discussing an idea (often generating refinements) but also by writing a creative brief. This will include descriptions and illustrations of the idea

Direction: A Picture Editor will often direct shoots to ensure that the lighting/position of subjects etc will best realise the idea

Images Processing: This often forms a large part of the workload of the Picture Editor. Using industry standard applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Bridge, a Picture Editor will process images for use. This might be re-touching an image (also known as “air-brushing”) where blemishes and other inconsistencies in an image will be removed and other areas may be enhanced or completely recreated. Captioning forms an important part of image processing and it is common practice to embed captions in the image file. This is done using Photoshop/Bridge and selecting the “File Info” option from the “File” menu. A Picture Editor will then add captions, copyright information and anything else relevant to the picture.

NB: A Picture Editor is often also known as a Photo Editor especially outside the UK.